Niantic coyote death under investigation
East Lyme ― The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is investigating a report that a coyote was poisoned in the area of Dodge Pond near the Town Hall.
In the week leading up to August 1, Dawn Griswold, a self-described enthusiast who often participates in wildlife rescues, said she kept an eye on a mother coyote and four pups from her backyard in the Dodge Pond.
“They were here for 8 days, and I was following them because they were right next to me,” she said, contacted by phone on Friday.
Griswold said she was also keeping an eye on them because she had noted the mother had mange, and she was trying to find out if she could somehow get her treated.
“Every single person in town that was walking their dogs anywhere near this coyote was never threatened. She would stop; she would look at them, and she would walk the other way,” she said.
She added that the coyote was never aggressive toward her and never tried to attack her cats either.
On Friday, July 29, Griswold said she spoke with First Selectman Kevin Seery, and encouraged him to post a sign alerting people there was a coyote in the vicinity so no issues arose between people with unleashed dogs in the area and the female coyote and her pups. She decided to post to a community Facebook group to alert people to the coyote family’s presence until the sign could be placed.
On July 30, at 9 a.m., Griswold said she saw the mother and all four pups. She went for a swim in the pond, and when she returned, she noted a container near where the coyotes had been which she had not noticed prior to her swim.
Griswold said that within about two hours of noticing the container, two of the pups and the mother had disappeared. By Sunday, she said, “one was barely moving,” and within 24 hours, they were all gone.
Over the eight days the coyotes were nearby, she said her cats had not left her yard, but on August 1, they did, and, that same day, her Maine Coon Cat led her to the female coyote’s body and that nearby there were two dead pups in a thick patch of prickers and poison ivy.
She emailed Seery and contacted DEEP and, the following day, DEEP showed up with the first selectman. She said she was told they were going to take the body and test it.
The officials did not take a container which she believes contained poison, but took photos of a stamped tag on the lid indicating the place and date of sale.
Seery, contacted by phone Friday, would not comment on the ongoing investigation, but said he’d notified police and the DEEP after receiving an email about the incident.
He added that DEEP took the female coyote’s body and sent it to a lab for analysis, and that toxicology results “take a while to come back.” He said they did not locate any coyote pups.
“That’s the only thing we have,” Seery said. “We have only been able to definitively locate one coyote.”
He declined to comment further, but did say the town had not received one call regarding aggressive behavior on the part of the coyotes.”
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection did not respond to numerous requests for comment about the investigation.
At an informational forum held Thursday at Town Hall, Paul Colburn, a volunteer master wildlife conservationist for DEEP, told the 23 members of the public that dogs should be leashed and cats should be kept indoors, though he noted that Great Horned Owls take far more cats each year than any other predator, including coyotes.
Colburn warned people not to feed coyotes, which are omnivorous, either intentionally, or unintentionally with bird feeders, fallen fruit from trees, pet food, garbage or compost. He said the animals may become used to people, and that could potentially lead to the need to euthanize the animal.
Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control Officer Robert Yuchniuk also spoke at the forum and encouraged residents to report any animal that acts “drunk,” because it could be a sign that the animal has rabies.
They are also known to be susceptible to mange, a skin disease caused by mites, and other canine diseases including distemper.
A fact sheet provided at the meeting stated that Eastern Coyotes are rarely a threat to human safety. In a coyote encounter, people should make noise and wave their arms around, and even throw small sticks or pebbles at them in an attempt to scare them away, but that if an area offers food and shelter, fencing may be the only means of keeping them away from homes.